Last week saw the first meeting of the London Assembly’s Transport Committee since the elections. In front of the Committee were Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy and Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor for Transport.

Hendy and Dedring are generally two of the better performers in front of the Committee, giving full, well informed, answers with (relatively) little evasion. Last week’s meeting was no exception, and consequently the session provided some interesting insight into the current thinking within TfL on several key topics. Most notably, their comments on both Oyster and Franchising (including confirmation that TfL will register their interest in tendering for at least two upcoming Franchises) opened a rare window on the current state of the relationship between TfL and the DfT.

Those wishing to watch the full two hour meeting can find it on the Assembly website. A summary of highlights and some key quotes and transcripts can, however, also be found below.

Funding, Fares and Manifesto Promises

Given that it dominated much of the discussion during the electoral battle, the subject of TfL’s “surplus” – and whether that should translate to a fare cut – formed a key part of the Committee meeting.

Committee Chair Caroline Pidgeon asked Hendy to summarise in simple terms what the actual situation was. She also pushed Hendy to indicate just what money was available for any additional projects, in line with promises within the Mayor’s manifesto.

Hendy’s answer was relatively straightforward. In terms of repeating financials, TfL was currently seeing an annual improvement of £30m above their projected income. Mostly as a result of increased fare revenue and the recession not biting into transport usage as much as was projected. In addition to this a one-off saving of £130m was achieved last year, largely as a result of various savings initiatives that had originally been planned for this year being implemented a year early.

Hendy was keen to stress, however, that this did not represent a “vast hidden pot of gold to do things” and that decisions on both budgeting and how achievable any manifesto promises are would be made in the Autumn, as part of TfL’s normal planning process.

Hendy’s response to just what that planning process would bring in terms of meeting the Mayor’s manifesto promises was, it is probably safe to say, on the tactful side.

I’ve been here quite a long time now, and I’ve found that following every election that there are some things which the prospective Mayor has committed themselves to which are more difficult to do, and which at least need to be costed properly

His response to the overall question of whether the Mayor’s promise to “bear down on fares” would translate to lower costs for passengers, however, was considerably blunter.

There isn’t a large sum of money on a recurring basis that you can put towards a fares reduction and say “Ah! there’s a sum of money that’ll turn up every year! We can just reduce the fares by it!” And if there were, I can’t believe anybody wouldn’t use it.

Reducing Delays

One of the other key promises made by the Mayor during the campaign, and a hot topic given recent disruption, was to further reduce delays on the Underground.

Much of the discussion within the Committee meeting on this subject focused on just how practical a goal this actually is. Both Hendy and Dedring acknowledged that the majority of gains possible through making things “a bit faster and a bit better” had now largely been made. Instead, they argued, these savings would have to come through better anticipation (and avoidance) of potential issues and through faster service recovery afterwards. Both acknowledged though that what this meant in practice still needed to be defined.

Hendy also highlighted that entering the current period unburdened by the demands of PPP, with TfL in direct control of contracting and rolling stock, would also be a major help. Indeed his relief at seeing the back of the PPP setup was clearly apparent.

We are – thank God – over the nightmare of the very destructive nature of the PPP. So hopefully the next trains we buy will be neither ones which are so specific, as in the old Underground history, so that nobody else has ever seen anything like them, nor ones that the contractors thought they could give you because they thought it was the right thing to do.

We look enviously, for example, at my colleagues in Paris who have spent the last 50 years deliberately, step by step, improving the design of new trains on a continuous basis rather than reinventing both the train and the way you procure it every time you think you might have one. Which is what we’ve done in the last 20 years.

Lets put it this way. Now in three elections where I’ve been around no candidate has ever submitted their manifesto for approval from us. And sometimes with all the candidates you read it and you think… Wow. Wonder where that came from.

But actually in this case [30% disruption reduction], we agree, we can actually do 30%. We agree that now we’re back in control of the track, and the infrastructure, and the signals, and the trains, that we can do 30%. How we do it has to be worked out.

Crossrail and Crossrail 2

The Committee meeting also touched, briefly, on both Crossrail and Crossrail 2 (the Chelsea – Hackney proposal), on which London First have recently issued a report with backing from TfL. On the subject of Crossrail, it was confirmed that there has so far been no discussion of a station at Old Oak Common. This will not come as a surprise to those who have followed the project closely, but some confusion over the topic has manifested in recent months due to mixed messages on the subject coming from Kensington & Chelsea and thus it is good to have a definitive answer.

We will cover Crossrail 2 specifically (and London First’s report) in greater detail at a later date. Hendy did, however, make a number of comments on Crossrail 2 – particularly its relationship to HS2 – which are worth highlighting here, as TfL seem very keen to ensure that the project features on the Terms of Reference for HS2.

If the High Speed [2] line is built, and in particular if it is built beyond Birmingham, then certainly our very strong view is that you must have Crossrail 2 because otherwise all these people will turn up at this fabulous station at Euston and they’ll all have to walk down Southampton Row. Because they won’t get on the Northern Line or the Victoria Line because they’re both full already. So we believe that a necessary precondition for HS2 – and certainly the second part of it – is that Crossrail 2 gets on the agenda and is built.

It would be not much short of disastrous for the first part of HS2 to be developed without the necessary work at Euston to enable extra capacity at Euston, in due course, to be provided. And that’s the essence of that part of the Mayor’s very strong case [for Crossrail 2]. Which is that you can’t – well you could. You could be utterly myopic – say just “Oh well we’ll do it one day just not now.” But our point, of course, is that if you want to make adequate provision underneath the station, you better do it before you rebuild it – not after you did! Because after you did will be frankly a lot harder and maybe impossible.

We all hope that one of the consequences of the Government promoting HS2 now – providing that it’s successful – is that you can carry on with the accumulated expertise and learning from the workforce and so on from Crossrail without it all dispersing. There is, as you probably realise, a great history in the last 30 years of building up all this expertise then the projects run out and they all go abroad. And then, you know, you’ve got to start again.

I think that one of the things that is not lost – at least on Justine Greening – is the point that actually you do want to carry all this on, because not only does it make it easier to do and cheaper, but actually it saves you a hell of a lot of work in training people again.

Extending Oyster and Franchising

Arguably the most interesting part of the Committee meeting focused on both the issues associated with extending Oyster further outwards on the National Rail network, and on what TfL’s plans were with regards to Franchise reform and tendering.

Both are topics with which we are well acquainted. With the need for a reform of the Franchise process, and the form TfL would likely want that to take, both subjects we have written on before (and to which we will return in the not too distant future). Both subjects – particularly Franchise reform also have extensive cross party support within the Assembly, and seem likely to be battlegrounds between the DfT and TfL over the next five years.

Hendy’s comments in the meeting provided an excellent insight into TfL’s current thinking, and confirmed that there appears to be a growing gap between their position on both subjects and that of the DfT.

On the expansion of Oyster, for example, Hendy expressed disappointment at the DfT’s championing of ITSO over Oyster. The Betamax to Oyster’s VHS, ITSO is the DfT’s prefered standardised method for smartcard travel, but one that, despite many years of gestation, has barely made it beyond the theoretical. In the meantime, TfL’s own (incompatible) Oyster system has effectively become the defacto smartcard standard in the South East.

Reading between the lines in Hendy’s comments (included below) it seemed clear that TfL were less than impressed by the DfT’s decision to block a TfL/FCC proposal to take Oyster out to St Albans last year. That TfL felt that Oyster’s established presence in the marketplace meant it was the superior system in practice (if not in theory) was also clear.

We’ve been pressing the Department of Transport very strongly to allow the Train Operating Companies, and put in the Franchises, the extension of Oyster outside of London. It’s had some mixed results. There is some extension of Oyster outside of London on some Franchises and on others the Department appears to have decided that it doesn’t want to let that happen. It continues to rely on ITSO which is about a twenty year old idea for a common standard.

After being asked whether ITSO was still entirely conceptual, Hendy continued…

There is a bit of a product. Scottish pensioners have it, for example, on buses in Scotland.

We continue to believe that Oyster is a very practical way of paying for journeys in and around a conurbation, and we’re also in discussion with other commercial operators and bus operators outside of London who might want to use Oyster as a means of taking cash off their buses, and in some areas around London where actually some of those holders would actually be our passengers as well. We think that’s quite a practical thing to do, and would actually offset some of the costs of developing the Oyster system.

Suggesting that ITSO is confined to Scottish bus ticketing was perhaps slightly disingenuous, but Hendy’s comments did highlight the growing gap between TfL and the DfT on subject of smartcards. Hendy’s exchange with Richard Tracey on the subject was also simple, but very telling.

RT: It’s a proven product. I can’t believe they’re still clinging to this ITSO idea which has been in gestation for years?!

PH: Yeah. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Devolving Franchises

On the topic of Franchising, both Dedring and Hendy were also relatively candid. Dedring confirmed that TfL would be expressing interest in both the upcoming Anglia and Southeastern Franchises, and hinted at at least one more. She also suggested that TfL’s interest in the Franchises had not been welcomed entirely with open arms by the DfT.

We’re obviously putting in submissions on the broader concept of devolution, but obviously there’s limits to how much impact that can have. So clearly we should continue to make the case in those more general, slightly theological, exercises. But more immediately there are two Franchises that were identified for London specifically. Broadly speaking there’s six Franchises that are potentially relevant to us over the course of the term that are coming up for renewal. Out of those six there’s one that’s a possibility that’s coming later in the term, but there are two Franchises where expressions of interest need to be put in this year…

…For those two Franchises [Anglia and Southeastern] we will be putting in expressions of interest, and arguing that we should have a much greater role in those specific Franchises. I think it’s safe to say that the DfT are not… well… “lukewarm” would be an overstatement of the level of positivity they have about this.

“Is that the politicians or the officials?” Richard Tracey asked, prompting Dedring to indicate that taking the issue up with the Secretary of State for Transport was a Mayoral priority.

It’s hard to tell at the moment. This is one of the things that is on the urgent agenda to discuss with the Secretary of State.

Hendy then seemed to suggest that Thameslink may well be the other Franchise that TfL have an eye, of sorts, on – a proposal that’s not as strange as it might seem when one remembers that Crossrail, a line with a similar geographic spread, will be a TfL Concession.

The revised Thameslink Franchise takes over quite a large tranche of the current Southern Franchise. In that case, that’ll be quite interesting because in the current Southern Franchise we paid a relatively modest amount to have some of the conditions that the Mayor would want to see in future Rail Franchises incorporated within that Franchise in Greater London. So all the stations are staffed in normal hours and the service is better, so there would be a smaller increment to go to turn it into something different.

My belief would be that there would be a very strong case for the Mayor having influence over the Thameslink Franchise, only mitigated by the fact that actually those trains start a very long way away in one direction and go quite a long way away in the other.

Hendy’s own comments on precisely what makes the Overground model a success, and a better fit, for the likes of the Southeastern Franchise are also worth noting here.

The Overground is a fantastic model. I don’t think anybody expected the transformation of the Overground to be half as successful as in fact it’s been. And the reason for that is because we’ve correctly recognised it’s an urban railway serving Greater London in a similar way that the Tube serves it, and that some of the same conditions that you would then apply are the ones which greatly generate income. Like staffed stations. Like a frequent service. Like attractive stations.

One of the main differences is, and having been there and seen it, is that if you work for a major transport group and you take on a franchise which stretches to intercity services into the countryside then the proportion of revenue that is attributable to Plymouth or Exeter compared with West Drayton is so disproportionately great that that’s where you focus all your management interest. And I think if you’d given the Overground Franchise to the same people who ran trains to Norwich then you would have found the same condition. Which is that they wouldn’t have been interested in Hackney Wick. We are interested in Hackney Wick! So that’s the first thing.

And the second thing is that, bearing that in mind, you might as well – or rather you should have an economic model, one in which actually you’re not trying to incentivise the operator to build revenue on an incremental basis. What you’re in fact trying to incentivise them to do is to run a decent service. And the consequent revenue increase, which we’ve seen on the Overground, through that and more staffed stations, and more police and so on, then accrues back to the Mayor. So it’s a virtuous circle.

And that’s the strong argument on this, and anybody who travels on the Southeastern in the inner metro area will attest to the fact that if you could close your eyes and imagine it was run like the Overground then you might get a better service, you might have more customers, you might have more income – but that income ought to accrue to the Mayor to pay for the better service you’re operating.

Cycling and the London Cycle Network (LCN)

Another subject on which both Hendy and Dedring provided some interesting comment was that of the LCN and what the future might bring for regular cycling within the Capital. As Hendy admitted, TfL needed to address the problems of road junctions and apply some learnt lessons.

One of the things we have learnt dealing with cycle super-highways, and that we’re learning doing these 500 junction reviews, is a better way of dealing with some of these difficult junctions. Because clearly some of them weren’t dealt with in LCN terms. Whether at the end of the 500 you complete what the original concept of the LCN was, I can’t answer now – we can answer subsequently. But I think that one of the things we have learnt is that as cycling increases, since people cycle everywhere on all the roads then we better deal with some of these junctions so that actually they’re designed in the best way they can be. The LCN had a rather different concept originally I think.

The path that further development of the LCN should take was a point taken up by Dedring.

I’m sure you’ll find this unsatisfying, but my personal view is that we need to look at the network as it stands today. Look at the volume of cycling we’ve got on the network today, which is totally different from what we had ten years ago, when people conceived of the LCN, whenever that was, broadly on that timescale, and we need to treat those issues as we see them today.

I’m not sure the LCN necessarily helps that. In fact, if you look at the LCN as it was initially constructed, the view, I know the view of a lot of the cycling community now is that ideally you wouldn’t want to have the vast variety of markings and routes. It’s quite confusing for someone coming onto the network for the first time. It’s not as if every time you get to a junction there’s one of three things that’s going to happen. There’s a very wide range of dozens and dozens of different types of intervention strung together. Which was sort of where we were at that time in terms of necessity.

Now is that where we want to be today? If you look at a place like New York, for example, where they’re putting a lot of effort into upgrading their cycling provision, they’re trying to boil it down to “we will make one of three different types of intervention” and that’ll be a lot clearer to anyone using the network – both cyclists but also motorists. You will see one of these three things but not one of twenty four things, where people start to get quite confused about what level of protection they have, what their rights are, what they can expect motorists to do, and all those kinds of things.

So I’m not sure the historical perspective on this is necessarily so helpful in terms of where we are today. We’ve seen a step change in terms of cycling on the roads, we’ve seen a step change in terms of the political focus on this subject – we should take advantage of that! And sometimes looking backwards could potentially, I think, make us lose the momentum. That’s my own view.

Miscellaneous points

Beyond the above, there are a few final points worth highlighting from the Committee meeting. there was a short discussion over the current trials of the New Bus For London, but this did not yield much in the way of information worth repeating here.

There was, however, some discussion as to what “improving traffic flow” meant. As on previous occasions, Dedring stressed that as far as she was concerned, reliability was as important as speed.

One of the things that we focused on over the first term was reliability rather than time to get from A to B. What’s more important to people in all of the surveys I’ve seen and all the people I’ve spoken to – you know, if you just talk to the average person – they want to know that in getting from A to B that they can roughly predict how long its going to take. What isn’t acceptable is that four days out of five it takes me thirty minutes and then the fifth day it takes me fifty minutes so therefore, in going to work every day on the bus, I need to budget fifty minutes because I’m going to be sacked if I’m twenty minutes late one in five times. So that has to be the priority – to make sure it’s operating in a more reliable sense. No different from the Tube network. But then clearly once that box is ticked you want to get everywhere faster.

It is also worth finishing with Hendy’s thoughts on new river crossings. Delivered specifically in relation to a potential new bridge at Vauxhall/Nine Elms, something that was championed by the now defunct Battersea Developer Treasury Holdings, Hendy highlighted something that it is worth bearing in mind whenever crossing sites are proposed:

You do need two ends to a bridge, and the people at both ends have to be enthusiastic about where it lands…

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There are 51 comments on this article
  1. Greg Tingey says:

    Tube reliability … Does this suggest that (apart from many of the “bosses” at LUL being loudmouthed. arrogant, incompetent bastards) that a large part of the problem was DafT – again, namely PPP?

    Altering very slightly ….
    Everyone: -“It’s a proven product. I can’t believe they’re still clinging to this IEP idea which has been in gestation for years?!”
    Dft “Yeah. I couldn’t possibly comment. But you are going to get it, whether you like it or not.”

    Devolving franchises – well DafT asked TfL to do it, and it WORKED – now what do they do?
    Hendy: “I don’t think anybody expected the transformation of the Overground to be half as successful as in fact it’s been.” Which is why DafT are so against it, of course!

    Cycle “super-highways”? What are these of which he speaks? They have them in Germany & the Netherlands ….
    They don’t have death-traps (for pedestrians as well) like the Bow roundabout.

    “Improving traffic flow”
    Well, how about having sequentially phased lights, so someone travelling at a steady 25-30 mph goes along on a “green wave”? Rather than accelerating from one set, to have the next set turn red in your face? Yes, there are at least two round here that do that ….
    Wastes fuel, and really does cost to the environment, as well.

    “Two ends to a bridge”?
    Like a pompous, hideously unsafe cable-car (*), that does not even remotely connect with anything at either end, you mean?
    (* The Arab-Fly Dangleway, in fact, as so christened by Diamond Geezer)

  2. Rational Plan says:

    Greg’s in with his bombast I see.

    The Cable car is unsafe is it? Plus using Arabfly in a derogatory manner is sliding close to racial epithets. It’s like changing British Airways to White peoples Air.

    As for green wave, you do get limited sections on the Euston road towards the Westway. The problem is London is not a regular gridded american city with nice wide avenues. It’s all very well having your lights switch to green on a four pahse cycle when all you’ve got if West, North, East then South to figure out. London’s traffic flow is too complicated for that. Besides already do have one of the worlds most responsive traffic control system. Every year more and more lights are integrated into the SCOOT network.

  3. D-Notice says:

    Plus using Arabfly in a derogatory manner is sliding close to racial epithets.

    I’m not sure that you can seriously suggest that taking the piss out of the sponsors is racist

  4. Fandroid says:

    My English bus-pass has an ITSO label on it ! Many English bus companies now require us old-uns to use them over a scanner on the ticket machine. However, it presumably just records that a freeloader is on the bus and some cash needs to be claimed from the local authority. As in London, they must operate on a fixed price per trip, as there is no input of destination.

    The pilot schemes for smartcards presumably involve ITSO. SW Trains has one on the mainline for season tickets.

    Having said all that, I think Hendy is 100% right. Oyster is such a phenomenal success, that it should just be taken on as the national standard. I’ve got one nestling in the same plastic sleeve as my bus pass.

    He’s 100% right about a TOC serving far away places not being at all interested in Hackney Wick! The franchisees are driven by their bid prices. They just have to put all their management effort into the long trips where the farebox revenue is greatest. DfT seem to be telling us that the Franchise system is the perfect unchangeable model, and that public transport strategy comes second. As Hendy says again: The incentives must be there to run a DECENT SERVICE. After that the increased usage provides a virtuous circle revenue-wise.

  5. John Bull says:

    @Fandroid – yes, that was why I felt the “Scottish Pensioners” comment was slightly facetious – SWT did indeed get lumbered with the ITSO trial (one of several reasons why they were one of the last TOCs to get onboard with Oyster).

    I got what he was going for though and the general point was indeed valid.

    I’m tempted to say that from now on the issue of the long range farebox vs metro services should now be known as “The Hackney Wick Question.” It’s clearly the major issue with Franchises that mix both and has been since they were first awarded – hell, that’s one of the key reasons why Silverlink were so categorically awful with regards to the NLL and why the Concession model was developed in the first place.

  6. THC says:

    @Greg – for the only time I can remember, you’ve made me agree with a point made by RationalPlan. Your good points (and they are definitely there) do get lost in the morass of your somewhat tiresome invective. Life becomes much more agreeable if you accept that people in general do the best that they can in their work, irrespective of their talent or aptitude. And that includes civil servants.

    @John Bull – I very much like “the Hackney Wick question”. Like its West Lothian counterpart, it encapsulates a knotty problem in a simple-to-understand term. I can see its use spreading quite rapidly…


  7. peezedtee says:

    The “Hackney Wick Question” is also the “Elephant and Castle Question”. As a user thereof, I get the strong feeling that FCC has no interest in it at all. Neither does anyone else, for that matter. Likewise, the Thameslink line between E&C/London Bridge and Kentish Town clearly ought to appear on the Tube map, but doesn’t. Is this because FCC doesn’t want to attract short-distance passengers from which they would derive little revenue? If it were operated by TfL on the basis discussed by P. Hendy, obviously it would be on the map and maybe E&C station would get tarted up a bit. Maybe they would even get round to installing some lifts.

    Re the map, as things stand, the uninitiated going from Blackfriars to Farringdon would look at the map and go all the way round the Circle line. But on Thameslink it is just 2 stops away. And so on. We need a system run in the interests of the passengers rather than one whose aim is to maximise the profits of First Group.

    I suspect that similar reasoning lies behind Chiltern’s much-publicised disinclination to provide a decent service at Sudbury, though I must admit that in most other respects Chiltern is a much better operator than FCC.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Suggesting that only Scottish pensioners use ITSO cards was disingenuous – yet I think we all agree with the basic thrust of his argument.
    One part of the ITSO problem, so far as I can see, is that where it is used for pensioner passes (such as on buses in West Cumbria where I’m typing this) is that the ‘get on board the bus’ process is painfully slow. Using oyster the bus boarding process is as fast as fast can be – because everyone pays a flat fare (or zero fare for travelcard holders), and the payment of fare is registered on the card at “tap in”.
    Meanwhile in the West Cumbria version of ITSO land there is nothing automated about the bus boarding process – the driver has to tap-tappety-tap at the little fare box machine to register which stop is the boarding point and how far the pensioner intends to travel – and then despite the use of a smart card they still issue the pension with a paper ticket! It seems as if the whole ethos of what a “smart card” is supposed to do has been forgotten. If this is DfT’s idea of the future then heaven help us.
    Come on DfT – face up to what actually works on the ground – and that’s oyster.

  9. John Bull says:

    Thinking about it, I suppose “The West Drayton Question” would be even more snappily in tune with the West Lothian original (and still true to the quote from Hendy above).

  10. Anonymous says:

    ITSO-compliant smartcards do have a use beyond pensioner discounts — e.g. Nottingham has a “Citycard” that is uses for public transport, as well as public library and leisure services. See Nottingham is a bit of an exception (it has one of the highest uses of public transport outside London) but the point needs to be made.

    You are right to point out that this is a standards war, to which the loser will have to pay transition costs. Given that most transport authorities outside London have plans based on ITSO it is going to be struggle to get them to switch, despite slow adoption. Private bus operators — who, until recently, had few obligations to comply with integrated ticketing — also have a role to play with slow ITSO roll-out. The different transport structure in London allowed for a “fast” deployment of Philips Mi-Fare-based Oyster cards (similar to the national OV-Chipkaart in the Netherlands) and now London has a working system which it is reluctant to spend money on to change; on the other side there has already been a lot spent on ITSO outside London (especially in Scotland and Wales). Why should the rest of the country change to suit London?

    One question is that given ITSO has been around for so long is why TfL went with Mi-Fare instead. Any thoughts?

  11. John Bull says:

    @Anonymous – This is from memory, but I do vaguely remember being told that originally TfL were meant to switch Oyster to something ITSO compliant at some point but decided it would be too costly. Don’t take that as a 100% fact though – I can’t remember the source.

    With regards to Oyster/ITSO, I’d really like to do a post on the history/relationship between the two but have struggled to find decent sources (both in terms of people and reading material). If anyone can help I’d be grateful if they could get in touch.

  12. Kit Green says:

    A good place to start a discussion about ITSO would be an analysis of what the ITSO system is meant to be able to offer that the Oyster system does not, and vice versa. Then it will be possible to see how these standards relate to the passenger and operator.

    Don’t forget that ITSO is sponsored by the government so there is almost certainly a surveillance angle to all of this too.

  13. Roy says:

    IIRC London Transport, as then was, selected MiFare as the basis of Oyster because it was an existing system that was in use in the Netherlands (and I think in Hong Kong), whereas ITSO was still at the vapourware stage. Oyster went live on 2003 – when did the first ITSO implementation see the light of day? 2007 or thereabouts? Paging Paul Corfield…

    Interestingly when LT kicked off the Oyster project back in the 1990s, neither TfL nor the Mayoralty existed, so who did LT report to? DafT!

    As to the future, TfL have made it clear they see the migration route from Oyster as being to contactless payment technology built into bank cards and even mobile phones. I strongly suspect that ITSO will itself end up being replaced by that sort of technology too.

  14. Rational Plan says:

    I thought TfL were in the process of changing Oyster to different system anyway? That Pay and wave debt card thing. I;m not sure what they would change about the residual system, but I know they want to get the transactional cost down.

    @ D Notice. I’m more irritated by the poor punning of the nick name, which is not Gregs fault I know. But yes the terminology is borderline. It is constructing an insulting term and using the nationality of those sponsoring it. We have plenty of forbidden words we don’t use today that nobody blinked at in the past. I’d not call it hard core or anything. But I get irritated by all sorts of racism even if most people don’t think it’s wrong i.e. anti – americanism.

    Actually I often agree with Greg, but he does come in with all barrels blazing sometimes.

    @THC what do I get wrong then?

  15. john b says:

    “the Thameslink line between E&C/London Bridge and Kentish Town clearly ought to appear on the Tube map, but doesn’t. Is this because FCC doesn’t want to attract short-distance passengers from which they would derive little revenue?”

    No – it’s because pre-TL2K+n, the last thing Thameslink needs is more passengers between z4-Farringdon and z4-Blackfriars on-peak, and off-peak the whole shebang is often closed for rebuild. In the early days of TL it was included on the tube map to ensure people were aware of it, and I’m sure that’ll be the case again when it’s done and dusted.

    “One question is that given ITSO has been around for so long is why TfL went with Mi-Fare instead. ”

    Because ITSO was invented by the DfT long after TfL had chosen MiFare (why that? Well, because of Not Invented Here Syndrome, obviously.)

    More generally: the extent to which ITSO has been deployed is so perfunctory that, if a transport minister were to tell DfT to drop it and use Oyster, it would still cost next to nothing (the investment in having a granny-scheme that’s ITSO-based is nowt; the preliminary investment in integrated ticketing is mostly about zoning and integration rather than the final nature of the card).

  16. Kit Green says:


    A good thing about Oyster is that it provides a method of storing cash ready for use as PAYG as well as storing the Tfl equivalent of season tickets.

    Contactless payment, for me, have the following problems:
    1) If the only option, does away with season tickets.
    2) puts us in thrall to the banks yet again, transaction charges per journey
    3) for a daily cap to work it could not be simply a pay point at entry, there still has to be Tfl intervention.
    4) current contactless policy from banks includes random instances of PIN being needed.

    I am sure I will think of more problems.

  17. Anonymous says:

    A big problem is that TfL are trying to take over all of London’s rail network (and tough to anyone who lives outside of Borisland) and comments like “the Thameslink line between E&C/London Bridge and Kentish Town clearly ought to appear on the Tube map, but doesn’t. Is this because FCC doesn’t want to attract short-distance passengers from which they would derive little revenue?” don’t help, as the reason it doesnt appear is because TfL won’t put it on the tube map.

  18. Anonymous says:

    An interesting summary from the Transport Committee meeting. I do think the ITSO comparison by PH is rather unfair given the pressure being exerted by the DfT to drive up acceptance and roll out of compatible cards. The concept of a National standard is a good one but also needs to be supported by management and apportionment arrangements which do not (yet) exist. This is why we have the somewhat farcical situation of several schemes within Stagecoach and Go Ahead companies but no interoperability. Similarly I don’t think ITSO yet works between buses and National Rail although Go Ahead are working on that with Southern Railway, Metrobus and Brighton and Hove buses. Stagecoach have also announced that all of its subsidiaries in the UK now accept ITSO for concessionary payments which suggests a significant investment on their part. They aren’t going to spend money converting to Oyster compatibility too.

    It is also a tad ironic that TfL are pushing Oyster so hard when the TfL Future Ticketing project is designed to move significant volumes of card holders away from Oyster and on to industry standard contactless bank cards. The background to that is to get TfL out from under the deal with Cubic and into a standardised and competitive market place for card / ticketing assets and processing and comms systems. These procurement issues and fear of “lock in” to one supplier were one of the original concerns voiced by the TOCs when I first started talking with them way, way back about Prestige and smartcards. Seems a bit odd to be suggesting that TOCs tie themselves into Oyster when TfL are heading away from it. A recent ATOC presentation (on their website) on new ticketing talks about Smartcard but does not point towards a wholesale acceptance of Oyster!

    DfT are paying for ITSO compatibility on the Oyster system but this is running late according to the latest TfL Investment Report on the TfL website. Some of the delay rests with the DfT and it changing its requirements but there now seems to be pressure to get TfL’s assets ITSO compatible to “give the TOCs a better customer proposition with regard to ITSO on their own territory”. I assume this means switching users to ITSO based Season Tickets than can also work inside London for onward travel.

    The same Investment Report also casts some light (but not much) on why the Future Ticketing Project roll out has gone backwards by several months. Much of this seems to relate to the banks demanding more controls and less risk around the transaction processes and subsequent charging to customer accounts. Seems like relations with the financial industry remains as difficult as ever!

    I am very puzzled by the concept of TfL “bidding” for franchises or part thereof. I can understand DfT being very annoyed about that because of fears around “skewing” the bidding process and whether TfL as a public sector body could undercut other bidders on cost and risk. I suspect there may be potential state aid issues lurking too. I had expected that government would pronounce on rail devolution first and then TfL would tender the bits that had been devolved allowing DfT to pursue the contracting of longer distance services. When reading through the article I guessed Thameslink might be in TfL’s sights and then hey presto PH lets his ambitions slip. While it will be a huge future franchise I do think it needs to be properly funded with high quality services. Another cost cutting, bargain basement First style bid is the last thing that is needed to make post 2018 Thameslink work effectively. Let’s hope Government sort themselves out quickly so there is some clarity on the important issue of rail franchising / devolution.

  19. John Bull says:

    I am sure I will think of more problems.

    Relies on people being able to maintain positive bank balances to cover all travel for a week/month – a potentially significant problem for those who live a paycheck-to-paycheck type existence.

    Basically I think there’s enough problems that we’re not likely to see a wave and pay solution for a while yet. Certainly for longer than TfL would like. I do agree, though, that this is where they see themselves transitioning to.

    Just as Microsoft skipped the HD-DVD/BlueRay generation completely with the XBox 360 (unlike Sony who had a vested interest in BlueRay) I see TfL skipping ITSO compliance and heading straight to whatever the winning implementation of contactless payment is.

    There was actually some comment on Wave & Pay in the Committee meeting, by the way, although I didn’t feature it here. Hendy confirmed that we wouldn’t be seeing it on the buses pre-Olympics, as they had problems in testing and its now too late. Will happen in the Autumn, with the Tube timescale (2013) still unchanged.

  20. John Bull says:

    Thanks Anonymous – excellent comment.

    I am very puzzled by the concept of TfL “bidding” for franchises or part thereof. I can understand DfT being very annoyed about that because of fears around “skewing” the bidding process and whether TfL as a public sector body could undercut other bidders on cost and risk. I suspect there may be potential state aid issues lurking too.

    To be honest my gut feeling is that there’s some serious gamesmanship going on from TfL – they tried the “softly, softly” approach to get the DfT to devolve more last year with talk of Overground quality, the NERA report highlighting cost savings etc. etc.

    As that doesn’t seem to be yielding much in the way of results, and with time running out, they’re now beginning to at least hint that they’re prepared to “go nuclear” if necessary and start bidding on things themselves.

    Nuclear in this sense being exactly what you outline – causing the kind of paperwork/State Aid headache that neither the DfT or the Government in general will want. It’s quite Livingstonesque as an approach if that is indeed the case, and I’m slightly impressed.

  21. Roy says:

    @Kit Green 4.33pm:

    I’m sure TfL wouldn’t migrate from Oyster to some bank-operated contactless system if it couldn’t support seasons, validation on entry and exit, capping etc, but i don’t think either TfL or the international banking cabal are operating in a vacuum on this.

    Here in New York in the American colonies we still have paper magstripe tickets (with a stupid swipe system far inferior to good old CTS gates). The MTA (the local TfL-a-like) want to migrate to a fully electronic system but they are seriously considering not implementing a dedicated card like Oyster but moving straight to bank-provided systems. The situation here is made easier by the NYC Subway and buses having flat fares and hence no exit control, but we do have season tickets and we also have transfers – usually free, sometimes not, usually automatic, sometimes not.

    I’ve seen it reported that the MTA, TfL, RATP in Paris and other transport authorities have had discussions to ensure that whatever future bank-card payment systems come along will work internationally in some way or other. I’m not sure I’d hold my breath on that one though.

  22. Greg Tingey says:

    Irrational plan.
    But the cases of green/red wave I know of are where there is only the straight through flow, so to speak, and the absesnce of a regular grid is irrelevant. What’s more they don’t even sseem to try to make it work.
    Your objection is spurious, probably because I wrote it.
    Same as the Emirates Deatrap, if you prefer my name for it. You certainly are not ever getting me on/in the thing!
    I note that he makes no comment on my bemoaning the fate of proper cycling routes ….
    Later comment – semi-apology accepted … YOU DO NOTE that the name isn’t mine – I pinched it from the excellent “Diamond Geezer” wholse london-observer type blog I find fascinating.

    “Having said all that, I think Hendy is 100% right. Oyster is such a phenomenal success, that it should just be taken on as the national standard. …” So OF COURSE, DafT are absolutely determined to erm, screw it around, refuse to use it and generally have an infantile hissy-fit over it, because SOMEONE ELSE thought of it..
    “I’ve got one nestling in the same plastic sleeve as my bus pass. …” ME too!

    John Bull
    And, of course, SWT have an awful reputation of trying to shaft everyone fopr the last farthing – their public excuses for not having Oyster were truly mind-boggling (that’s a eupemism for outright lies, actually)
    SEE ALSO peezedtee on this subject – I heartily concur!!

    Anonymous @ 1.24
    If this is DfT’s idea of the future then heaven help us.
    Come on DfT – face up to what actually works on the ground – and that’s oyster AND proper new ELECTRIC IC trains.
    Of course not, they will have to be sacked, or we are going to be lumbered – which means ….

    Kit Green
    Yes, you are soooo right – the “we know where you are” angle.
    Depressing isn’t it?

    other Anonymous @ 4.46
    “Much of this seems to relate to the banks demanding more controls and less risk around the transaction processes and subsequent charging to customer accounts …”
    Well. given the way we’ve all been shafted by these fraudsters over thpast year or two they need telling to erm, eff right off. But I suppoise we will have our pockets picked (again).
    As for your last sentence, I presume that was ironic in the highest degree?

    [Minor moderation done. You really do need to hold at least one barrel back sometimes old boy! – JB]

  23. Anonymous says:

    @ Roy @ John Bull – You might find there is a Corfield around but he is just choosing to be a bit lower profile these days despite posting “excellent comments about State Aid” :-)))

    The Mi-Fare card choice was left to Transys as the card performance, fraud and roll out risk sat with them under the terms of the PFI. Hong Kong had broken the ground in terms of a mass roll out but I think they used a different card. The Dutch OV Chipkaart followed later but I know much less about that project. It is quite correct that LT (or more strictly LRT) reported to the DfT and on occasion I had to deal with responses to Ministers about Prestige issues. Obviously Ken Livingstone stole all the credit for “inventing” Oyster even though the gestation went back many years earlier and I was the LU custodian of the concept for part of that time. Although the concept of what became ITSO existed at the time of the Prestige contract being signed there was no momentum to take it forward and certainly no unified interest from bus groups or the TOCs. It was nigh on impossible dealing with ATOC because there was no strategy for the rail industry, no push from the SRA and some level of disbelief that LRT would actually get to the point of implementing Prestige. Obviously a lot happened subsequently and Prestige became Oyster and two Mayors (and goodness knows who else) had to exert massive pressure and not a little money to get Oyster on National Rail in London.

    Clearly passengers do like the convenience of Oyster and that must be why some TOCs are now keen to see an extension beyond the zones. Lower retailing costs and more sophisticated charging regimes are also likely attractions. You can also see something similar on the buses if you venture across the border to places like Staines where TfL bus routes are very busy and people use Oyster and yet local non TfL routes are modestly patronised and people pay cash or wave a granny ITSO card. I rather suspect wider Oyster acceptance in those sorts of places could help bolster usage and make buses more attractive. One thing that ITSO doesn’t look as if it can do is offer a PAYG product for rail and that seems to be the segment of the market that TOCs would want to build up through offering PAYG to encourage off peak travel and offer an easy product for people who can’t commit to a season. Those TOCs who have seen how well PAYG in Greater London has worked on TOC services must be fuming at the DfT’s intransigence but I can understand the DfT’s viewpoint given the money it’s chucked at ITSO.

  24. Anonymous says:

    If DfT are surprised by Tfl bidding for franchises than that is a sad symbol of how publicly-managed bodies are communicating in this country. They should have worked out a while ago what lines could be devolved and more generally developed a broader strategy for rail in London and the SE.

  25. Roy says:

    @Pau- I mean Anonymous 5.30pm:
    You can also see something similar on the buses if you venture across the border to places like Staines where TfL bus routes are very busy and people use Oyster and yet local non TfL routes are modestly patronised and people pay cash or wave a granny ITSO card.

    Presumably there’s nothing stopping a local bus company from “buying in” to Oyster though? The TOCs might require DfT approval but why would e.g. Abellio Surrey or Arriva? Shouldn’t be difficult for an operator with TfL contracts to implement shurely?

    What happens when a non-London granny presents an English national ITSO pass to an Oyster reader – does it work or does the driver have to validate by eyeball?

  26. Paul says:

    Doesn’t TfL ‘bidding for franchises’ (or ‘expressing an interest in’) really mean TfL ‘bidding for bits of existing franchises’ that can be hived off and are predominantly London metro area routes?

    Thameslink & Southern combined will reach as far as Southampton in the west – not really much TfL jurisdiction out there I suspect…

  27. Paul says:

    Roy asks about the ‘non-London granny’, but what happens to the’ London granny’ when she presents her Oyster based ‘Freedom Pass’ outside London. It’s supposed to work everywhere in England as well isn’t it?

  28. jamesup says:

    Like the ‘Elephant and Castle question’, but further – the ‘Walworth Question?’ – surely if TFL ran the Sutton Loop services, they’d up the frequency and then it’s only natural to build a metro station to serve Walworth and Camberwell, saving money and easing congestion by reducing the hundreds of buses on Walworth Rd. A TfL ran Thameslink would hopefully care about interchanges at Elephant and be pushing hard for it to be improved.

    The Elephant – Farringdon service is a joy, 2 minutes from home and though it’s timetable is erratic it can be checked live online.

  29. Anonymous says:

    @ Roy. On the face of it yes Abellio Surrey (or whoever) are free to enter into an agreement with TfL about Oyster acceptance. However their freedom will be limited to services they run commercially. Much of surrey’s network is contracted by Surrey County Council and they would have to be involved. There will be both costs and benefits and you would need an agreement to make sure costs / benefits were transparent and appropriately allocated. As County Councils are “hard up” and commercial operation in Surrey is marginal at best then I can see real issues. TfL will be prohibited by statute by taking on additional risk that could affect their ability to fund and operate services in London. There would be no point in Abellio Surrey accepting Oyster during the day and Fred Bloggs Buses not accepting it on the evening and Sunday service which they run over the Abellio route but on contract to SCC. Surrey are bidding for “Better Bus Area” funding and I do think these border areas and TfL style consistent service levels and Oyster acceptance could be an interesting element in a “Better Bus” scheme for Surrey.

  30. swirlythingy says:

    I get the distinct impression that it’s not just London Reconnections commenters who think the DfT is staffed entirely by idiots…

  31. Littlejohn says:

    I have just checked my Geriatric Bus Pass (issued by West Berkshire Council) and it is ITSO. When
    I first started using it, the driver did indeed tap-tappity-tap all the details, although this was still quicker (Anonymous 01:24PM, 29th May 2012 please note) than me looking for money and the driver looking for change, which is how things still happen in the sticks. Now it is contactless. I sometimes travel from Newbury to Basingstoke on a service operated by Stagecoach; some passengers have WBC bus passes and some Hants CC ones, so the ITSO needs to be able to tell the operator how much to pay each local authority. It used to be more complex than that, as until recently the service was that unknown entity, a joint operation approved by the OFT and Competition Commission. ITSO had to be able not only to tell the 2 operators (Stagecoach and Reading Buses t/a Newbury Buses) how much to pay each authority but also be able to tell the 2 authorities how much to charge the 2 operators. Does Oyster have that sophisitication, or does it simply divvi up the pre-paid cash without needing to know where the passenger lives?

    One other thought strikes me. As I understand it, local authorities have a legal duty to provide concessional fares/bus passes for the grey population. How does this work in the Oyster world? When i go up to London I buy a train ticket with travelcard embedded in it, but if I didn’t would my bus pass work on the Oyster reader on TfL buses?

  32. Josh says:

    So when is Gerrards Cross being mysteries? That’s what I care about.

    Also, why don’t they look at outer arteries? Either a railway line or a high quality are needed in the outer west to deal with the congested streets. The point about franchisees who have a mix of long distance and commuter services caring less about the commuter services is valid, but, sometimes a similar problem exists with TfL where they aren’t as responsive to Outer London.

    But on the point of mixing commuter and long distance services, the advantage of ending that is that the branding becomes more useful the commuter. Because for example a train liveried as South West Trains would be long distance whereas London Overground or whatever would mark the local surface.

  33. Anonymous says:

    @ Littlejohn. I am not an ITSO expert but I understand that each authority or operator can load “products” to the cards which can be interrogated by any ITSO compliant reader. The bus ticket machine will capture the card details alongside the transaction information generated by the ticket machine. This info can be used by the operators to make their submissions for concessionary payments from the relevant local authority where the journey commenced.

    Commercial bus operators only load their own products to their own cards so they capture usage info on their own services and they already have the cash in the bank so there is no reconciliation of funds or apportionment. It will get much more interesting once a (Go Ahead) Key smartcard issued in Gateshead is able to be used in Brighton or Oxford. Money will then need to move between businesses and I am not aware of that sort of mechanism being created (yet). ITSO shows no interest in leading and why should Stagecoach be bothered about accepting an ITSO card issued by First or Arriva? – especially in a competitive arena. Passengers, of course, would love that convenience! A proper National Transport Card that worked on all buses, trams, Metros and trains would be immensely useful – that is what the Dutch have created with the OV Chipkaart. I have such a card and have used it in the Netherlands – all very easy even though you have to touch in and out on every journey regardless of mode.

    In London all revenue is collected by TfL so there is no apportionment to bus operators. They are paid a performance adjusted contract fee for running the service. Funding for concessionary travel comes from the London Boroughs. Your West berkshire ITSO concessionary permit is valid for use on TfL contracted bus services but not any rail services. At present you just show your pass to the driver when you board. When the system modifications to make Oyster ITSO compliant are complete you should be able to tap your card on the bus Oyster reader just like you do on a Stagecoach bus in West Berkshire.

  34. Rational Plan says:

    @ Greg, as ever greg, hostages killed, bridges burned etc.

    In regards to Staines. I imagine the main reason that the TFL services to Hounslow and Kingston are so busy are that they charge TFL fares. Though I have heard from a local that one of the Services to the airport (I think the 555) charges TFL fares and has an Oyster reader.

    Really the London borders need sorting out. Most people would kill for TFL bus fares and service levels in the neighbouring towns. There is heavy cross border traffic between neighbouring town centres and the M25 is a car park.

    The problem is that TFL is an extension of the Government of London and I can’t see anyone voting to join London or being happy with the Mayor having control over their bus service.

    My idea would be to create a muiti district grouping ( a mini PTE) covering the district councils with the strongest ties to London. So for the South West Quadrant. I’d create a group covering South Bucks, Slough, Windsor, Spelthorne, Elmbridge and Mole Valley, with it’s initial responsibility to be the buses in it’s area and for it to operate in conjunction with TFL for new bus routes, identical fare structure and integrated into Oyster. Rail could be left for another time.

    Currently cross border services are limited. For Example Slough is a dense suburban town and receives one TFL service to Hounslow on the 81. They have to put a double decker on this one, it’s so crowded and no wonder when the local First bus is about three times the price.

    If they were integrated into TFL, not only would they have bteer bus service in town, but it would have better much more heavily used links to neighbouring towns. For example the only service between Uxbridge and Slough is the 58 which wends it’s way through Langley and Iver to Uxbridge. I’ve used it because my car gets serviced in Iver, but is it ever so expensive. just half way from Uxbridge to Slough costs you £3.50, no wonder it only has pensioners and students.

    I suspect anyone wanting Uxbridge might find it cheaper to catch the train to West Drayton and then a TFL bus from there, or for a real bargain catch the 81 to the Bath Road outside the airport and change buses there. In a proper system there would be through buses from Slough to Staines/Uxbridge and Staines to Uxbridge, that did not require you to go the long way round. Heathrow would be an even bigger bus hub than it is at the moment.

    I could see another grouping in the East and one or two in the North.

  35. Anonymous says:

    The Chiltern main line is only two tracked and the timetable is packed with fast and semi-fast trains to the Midlands. This is why they can’t fit in frequent trains stopping at Sudbury whilst maintaining fast services on the rest of the line. It is a trade-off – Sudbury passengers can use the Piccadilly line, but there is no alternative for many other Chiltern stations.

  36. Anonymous says:

    @ Rational Plan

    Great idea, but you would need to reregulate non London buses and put them under management contracts (I would do it but I don’t think the current deregulation obsessives in Downing Street would). Also you’ve put most of Surrey in, you may as well add in Reigate and Bansted and Tandridge, both of which see a number of TfL services. The free travel for kids leads to some serious commuting out of London into Surrey schools and colleges on the 405 on top of those who catch the train (a couple of hundred at least into Redhill every day).

  37. Fandroid says:

    Fascinating discussion over ITSO and Oyster. I was vaguely aware of the Netherlands OV-Chipkart, but only had experience of its paper predecessor, the Strippenkart. That system meant that the Netherlands already had a national inter-available transport payment system. Your Strippenkart could be bought and used anywhere in the country. So shifting over to a national smartcard was an entirely obvious move.

    Germany appears to be even further behind than the UK. Every regional transport authority seems to be moving over to various smartcards and payment systems while DB ignores everything except where they are contracted to provide the S-Bahn services.

    The comments about London border bus services highlight that it’s about time that the legal framework for bus services is reviewed. Hell, the current set-up is a legacy from the Thatcher days, and although that period is still giving Greg nightmares, it was well over 20 years ago.

  38. Anonymous says:

    @ Fandroid – there is a good English language site for the OV Chipkaart if you want to see how it all works. There are also some good quality videos (in Dutch) too. Some of the Dutch bus companies also have video information on their regional sites but obviously spoken in Dutch. Their system covers the NS rail network with seasons, PAYG plus other special tickets and concessions. Fare deduction is distance based but with a fixed tariff element too.

    I have an anonymous card that I bought from a machine at Amstel Station. Last time I was there I noticed many many people holding the cards and particularly on NS.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I am with Rational Plan. If you compare bus services in areas with a PTE with those where there is an deregulated mess the comparison is stark. It is not only London that does well out of regulation. Other cities, with much less well funded PTEs, deliver much better services than the areas with deregulation and ad-hoc council funding. Councils pour a lot of money into private bus companies but they seem to get very little in return. It is like they are having to bribe the bus companies even to provide the most nugatory of services. This is not an effective way to fund public transport.

    This isn’t about politics. We have tried both systems and deregulation clearly does not work. If anybody doubts it, come to Guildford where it is far better to travel than to Arriva.

    The fact that TfL is so keen to reach out of London is not due to ambition, it is just a natural desire to fill the vacuum left by the lack of anybody else taking charge of transport outside London. TfL’s interest is better than nothing but it isn’t really right for London to be taking responsibility for stuff so far out of London just because nobody else gives a toss.

    What we really need are PTEs for every single part of the country, including rural areas which currently are all but forgotten and hence suffer huge economic disadvantage from lack of public transport. Where services overlap the PTEs would share responsibility. On the London border these new PTEs would have to work closely with TfL but should remain accountable to their local transport users and not be allowed to become TfL’s gimps. Ideally they would side with TfL when it is trying to get sanity out of the DfT but slap it down if it tries to exert undue influence over their regions.

    The first thing these new PTEs should be doing is sweeping away the massive failure that is bus deregulation and re-regulating the bus services and introducing interoperable local and regional season tickets. The next step is rolling out a coherent UK wide cashless payment system supporting PAYG and season tickets. If ITSO can do PAYG (now, not at some unspecified time in the future) then it can be considered along with Oyster and whatever is coming after that. If not, forget ITSO. If the PTEs can pull that off and get people back on buses after years of decline then it is time to let them have a role in specifying train services in their regions too.

    Where would that leave the DfT? Well, surely it couldn’t become any more pointless and irrelevant than it already is? Right?

  40. Littlejohn says:

    @ Rational Plan

    You seem to have reinvented the LT Country Area

  41. Paul says:

    Jamesup on 29th

    ‘surely if TFL ran the Sutton Loop services, they’d up the frequency’…

    Doesn’t matter who runs it, they cannot just create capacity if it doesn’t already exist already but unused. However NR already have tentative plans (in one of the RUSs) to run a 4 tph service round the loop, by altering it to a Blackfriars to London Bridge (via Sutton and Wimbledon) service, by 2018 when it cannot go through the Thameslink core.

    That can all be done anyway with or without transferring it to LO.

  42. Anonymous says:


    “Doesn’t TfL ‘bidding for franchises’ (or ‘expressing an interest in’) really mean TfL ‘bidding for bits of existing franchises’ that can be hived off and are predominantly London metro area routes?”

    TfL identified which bits they’d want to cut out of the existing franchises in this report: (p.23 for SE and p.25 for Anglia) It’s all within the ‘Mayor’s Wider London boundary’ – whatever that is.

    As for the Sutton Loop, the capacity freed up through Herne Hill’s junctions by all Brighton trains going via London Bridge after T2K is completed in 2018 will be turned over to local services according to the 2011 RUS. But there are other problems on the loop – the junctions at Tulse Hill, Wimbledon’s single platform, the ancient signalling on some parts – that prevent any serious increase in capacity without major works.

    I’d love to see Camberwell reopened (especially since it’s almost a certainty that the Bakerloo extension, if built, will miss it), but the capacity doesn’t exist on the loop. Peak trains are already absolutely rammed; letting people on at Camberwell would be chaos.

    Perhaps the solution would be to run most trains serving Camberwell to Croydon, using the route currently used by peak Brighton services (Blackfriars – HH – TH – East Croydon), and some along the Catford Loop, instead of around the Sutton Loop. This would avoid at least some of the capacity constraints affecting the criminally underused E&C corridor (but, admittedly, create others, like where to terminate the trains).

  43. Rational Plan says:

    I thought it might be more feasible to stick to smaller groupings that locals could feel they controlled. A greater London county system would be driven from London. If you restricted it to the more urbanised district councils around London, where the Greenbelt arrived too late, then you would have the characteristics and operating costs of TFL’s existing suburban areas. I’m not sure how that would translate to the more rural districts. It’s mainly the Northern and Southwestern fringe of London where suburbs are contiguous across the London boundary.

  44. Fandroid says:


    it’s quite true that it doesn’t specifically need LO to up the frequency on the Wimbledon Loop (if the restraints are removed). However, to be a real success it almost certainly needs the knowhow of TfL to publicise and present it to the wider audience. If it’s just another TOC service, the clever folk will find it while the rest remain in ignorance.

    re the bus discussions here. The huge failing of the UK bus industry (outside London) as deregulated is in marketing and information. They just don’t seem to have a clue. Almost every public transport authority is better than the private bus companies. Masses of people are AFRAID to use the buses. They don’t know where they go, how long they take, how often they run, where to catch them, how much they cost, how they can pay, how they will know where to get off!

  45. Alex says:

    Personally, I’m in favour of TFL taking over as the first step in incremental roll-back of privatisation, as well as it being a good idea in itself. With regard to the boundary issues, I think there’s a case that the transport region ought to expand to match the size of the metropolitan area. Everywhere else in Europe, they’ve encountered this problem and solved it this way, and have far better public transport as a result.

    Beyond that, it’s very, very true that PTEs are good for you. The comparison between transport in the West Yorkshire PTE (at least once you get onto the rails) and in the non-TFL South East is telling. I strongly agree that we ought to have a policy of creating more PTEs, indeed heading for 100%.

    I see the end state as being close to the 80s BR structure (the only one that worked according to Roger Ford), with a long distance express business unit, a freight and open access unit, but rather than the old Regional Railways/BR Provincial, a division that does nothing but manage the relationship with PTEs, which take over all the suburban/local train services, whether operating them (like Overground), contracting (I suppose we must put up with some), or using New BR as a service provider.

  46. THC says:

    @Rational Plan, 29/5 4.29pm

    Hello there! Apologies for the delay in replying – have only just noticed your reply to me. It’s not a question of you getting anything wrong – far from it – just that, from what I’ve read here and elsewhere, we have quite differing opinions. ISTR, for example, a difference of opinion on Diamond Geezer’s blog about the BorisBus; you liked it and I thought (and still do) that it’s a vanity project. But such differences of opinion keep things interesting…


  47. Anonymous says:

    What I like about Oyster (though I’m not fussy, ITSO could do it too I guess):
    – having a travelcard that just adds the extra it needs, i.e. a 1-5 travelcard that just charges you for zones 5-6 if I catch a fast train to zone 6. You can’t do that with paper tickets as the split journey needs to stop at the changeover station (but you can usually get away with it).

    What I don’t like:
    – having an annual travelcard and it not registering my gold card for discounts automatically, so when I do go outside my ticket (on National Rail) I end up paying more than I should.
    – not having a pre-loaded travelcard, doing more travelling in a day than a travelcard costs, and not having it cap my fare at that price. It does you say? Oh no. Why does it do this? Because I live on a National Rail line, and TfL only cap TfL’s fares. Exaggerating, but I can spend £10 on Southeastern, £10 on SSWT and £8 on tube fares (all within zones 1-6) and the three don’t talk to each other. I’m sure someone will moan about data protection but that’s not a good enough excuse – it all shows up on my TfL Oyster online account, so someone can see all my data…

    An Oyster card gives TfL and the TOCs far more information than they get with paper tickets, the least they could do is give us a system that is fully integrated, rather than nearly integrated.

    Not that I’ve ever done it, but how does Oyster to Watford Junction work? Luton, St Albans, Sevenoaks, Dartford, maybe even Woking would all be equivalent places where Oyster should reach/could be extended to, but another TOC sets the fares. I want to get on a train at wherever and get off somewhere else – and not have to buy a different ticket that varies in price depending on who I travel with (e.g. TfL or Virgin in WJ’s case).

    Finally, Thameslink could easily be split into a metro and mainline franchise, as could all the other TOCs. Why couldn’t TfL run just part of it? Their demands seem to be quite simple – inside zone 6, trains should be an appropriate length and run at a minimum of 4tph all day. TfL don’t want to manage trains all the way to Southampton, but to a sensible point (approx 30 miles, say East Grinstead in Southern’s case, or Tunbridge Wells (maybe) in Southeastern’s case) they are probably best placed.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Oyster should cap fares in the corrdct zones regardless of operator and always has done for me having used both the above and southern all in one day. I think it all goes to tfl back office for divvying up between operators.

  49. Anonymous says:

    I also live on a National Rail line and it is a complete nonsense to say price capping only works on TfL fares.

    Ever since the acceptance of NR fares they have been officially included within the price cap. I have made extensive use of my PAYG Oyster card for journeys that involve different combinations of TOCs and TfL services the have always been correctly capped on every occasion.

    Oyster is a single system, not separate disconnected ones for each company or mode as described. It could not possibly work that way when TfL and NR stations share gatelines or you can touch in at a TfL station, change, and touch out at an NR one.

    Anonymous 2

  50. Anonymous says:

    A thing to bear in mind with London’s handling of Freedom Passes is that there isn’t a fixed fare! The journeys are fully recorded, and it is negotiated every year how much TfL will want from London Councils.

    I don’t imagine a commercial operator would like that kind of risk.

  51. Matthew Dickinson says:

    ITSO cards can now be read at London Underground POMs. [Passenger Operated Machines. LBM]

    The top of the screen lists the journey history. Underneath this is a section for products valid in the TfL area. The product details are undecoded so not very useful at present. The bottom states whether the card holds products valid outside the TfL area.

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